Papa Bear looked sad.
It was Saturday morning and he sat moping down by the bridge in front of the house. Just staring off into the forest, licking the paw he had sprained the other day bringing in firewood.
JayZeeBear was up early, and noticing his father, walked over and grabed his leg, "Daddy, are you all right?"
"Yes JayZee. Just a little down today."
"Does you paw still hurt?"
Papa Bear looked down at his paw, "Yes, but don't worry it will be back to normal in a few days," a grin was coming over his face. "But I won't be doing any tree climbing this week."
JayZeeBear wondered why his father mentioned climbing. He knew Dad wouldn't to climb. He remembered his father said that he didn't need to climb a tree to reach his dreams when they were right here on the ground.
"Dad, you said you don't need to climb to be happy."
His father grabbed the little bear and rubbed his head with his good paw, "Tomorrow is a very special day. I guess I never told you the story of how I met Mom."
JayZeeBear's ears perked up. Papa Bear always had great stories to tell. "Tell me the story please Dad," JayZeeBear asked while he crawled up on Papa Bear's back.
"Well let's see," said Papa Bear, leaning into the bridge to get comfortable and staring out into the Green Forest. "When I was a young cub.."
"You mean my age?" asked JayZeeBear.
"Well......older. I was very shy. I was scared to talk, especially to girl bears. Well, one night my cousins dragged me off to a country dance."
"All evening as everyone danced I sat in a corner, afraid to ask anyone to dance."
"Dad. You're not afraid of anything," said JayZeeBear.
"Oh everybody has fears JayZee, it's just not good to always give into them," said Papa Bear.
JayZeeBear didn't understand and was about to ask another question when his father continued with the story.
"I was scared to talk to anybody and decided to sneak out of there. As I was leaving, I wasn't paying attention to where I was walking, that's when I stepped right on Mom's foot. Of course she wasn't Mom then. She swept me off my feet and I tripped and fell into the punch bowl. I made quite a mess."
"Did everyone laugh?" asked JayZeeBear.
"Yes they did, everyone but your Mom. I mumbled some apology without even really looking at her and tried to sneak away. That's when Mom grabbed my tail. I was so surprised, I let out a yelp. I looked up and saw the prettiest little bear I'd ever seen. I just stood there like a dummy waiting for her to laugh, but she didn't.
Instead she pointed up at a branch on a great oak tree above our head and asked, 'Don't you know what that is?' "
"A tree," I answered, staring up through the branches.
"No not the tree, what's on the tree?" she asked.
Looking closer I saw a bright green ball of vegetation sprouted just out of reach. I just shook my head, like a goof.
"The ball of leaves," I said.
She giggled, "That ball of leaves is Mistletoe and if a couple stands under it they must kiss each other for good luck."
"She walked up to me lifting her head back and stood with her eyes closed, I bent forward and kissed her cheek. She then took me by the hand and walked to the dance floor. We danced until the band quit, late into the night. I was so excited that before we left I climbed the tree and pulled down a branch of Mistletoe and put it on Mom's head. And since then every Mother's day I have brought Mom Mistletoe to remember the first day we meet".
"So tomorrow will you give Mom some Mistletoe?" asked JayZeeBear.
"That's the problem. At this time of year Mistletoe only grows in the trees in the high country. Nowhere near the ground. And with my sprained paw I can't climb to get it," said Papa Bear.
JayZeeBear thought, then rubbed his Dad's head and said, "I can climb Dad. We can get it together. I'll climb for you".
"Well son we got a long hike to reach the high country," said Papa Bear with a big happy smile on his face.
"Wow!" JayZeeBear climbed down and ran off in the direction of the high country with Papa Bear.
There were rocks to climb and streams to wade across as they headed into the mountains. The trees changed, from redwoods to oak and pine. Finally they came across a great oak tree and just out of reach on the first branch, there was a giant patch of green leaves that Dad called Mistletoe. Papa Bear instructed little JayZeeBear in the correct way to climb. Then JayZeeBear took off up the tree, the sound of his claws gripping into the bark as he moved upward.
This was the first real tree that JayZeeBear had ever climbed. And when he reached the first branch he rested and sat looking down at his Dad, "It's awful high up here!" JayZeeBear was very scared as he looked down.
"Don't worry son, you can do it. I'm here to catch you if you slip," said Papa Bear.
Papa Bear gave the little bear instructions to slowly move out along the branch where a thick patch of Mistletoe was growing. JayZeeBear clung with both front and back paws wrapped around the thick branch. He tried not to look down. Looking down scared him.
"Your doing great son just a few more feet and you'll have it," said Papa Bear, as he followed directly beneath to catch JayZeeBear if he slipped.
Once JayZeeBear reached the Mistletoe with one paw, he knocked the Mistletoe off the branch and it dropped to the ground next to his Dad.
But now there was a problem, JayZeeBear couldn't turn around on the branch to crawl back to the tree trunk. Instead he clung tighter than ever looking down at his Dad. "Dad I can't go back down. I'm scared!" screamed JayZeeBear.
"That's all right son, you don't have to. Just let go off the branch and I will grab you," said Papa Bear, positioning his arms just below JayZeeBear in order to scoop him up as he dropped.
After a minute JayZeeBear scooted over to a little branch where he could put his paws around and hang by until he was sure his dad would catch him. Then he closed his eyes and let go.
Papa Bear grabbed JayZeeBear and safely lowered him to the ground.
JayzeeBear was so excited to see the Mistletoe and carry it back home.
That evening Papa Bear had JayZeeBear hide the Mistletoe underneath his bed. Bright and early in the morning JayZeeBear heard Mom and Dad leave the house for the bridge.
He got out of bed, grabbed the Mistletoe and headed for the door. Papa Bear was keeping Mama Bear's attention away. JayZeeBear quietly waited for Papa Bear to give the signal to surprise his Mom.
"I'm sorry I couldn't climb to get you Mistletoe this year," Papa Bear said, looking back toward the house and winking at JayZeeBear to come on out.
"That's all right," said Mama Bear, taking Papa bear's sprained paw in hers and rubbing it.
JayZeeBear ran up and lifted the Mistletoe up to Mom, "Dad let me get the Mistletoe for you this year Mom!" JayZeeBear was excited and jumping up to put the twigs of Mistletoe on Mama Bear's head.
Mama Bear was suprised and laughed while they all hugged each other and stared at the morning sunrise.
"Let's go inside and have everyone's favorite breakfast," said Mama Bear.
"Honey!" JayZeeBear was rushing ahead toward the house as Mama Bear and Papa Bear walked hands together up the path right behind their son.
It was going to be a beautiful day in the Green Forest.